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Toxic algae confirmed in Waituna Lagoon – Environment Southland

Environment Southland’s latest monitoring results have confirmed elevated levels of toxic algae in Waituna Lagoon.

Last week, Environment Southland issued a warning for the public to avoid swimming, fishing, or drinking from the lagoon after an algal bloom was detected. Samples have now been analysed by the Cawthron Institute confirming the algae is cyanobacteria, or potentially toxic algae.

If you must consume fish from the lagoon, please follow preparation guidelines available on LAWA (www.lawa.org.nz).

People and animals (dogs in particular) should avoid contact with Waituna Lagoon, and be mindful of the potential health risks, until health warnings are removed.

Team leader aquatic ecosystems Ash Rabel says if you experience health symptoms after contact with contaminated water, visit a doctor immediately. Animals that consume cyanobacteria should be taken to a vet immediately.

“Planktonic cyanobacteria, the kind that forms in lakes and lagoons, presents different to that found in rivers, but still may produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals if swallowed, or through contact with skin.

“These algae can change rapidly with changes in environmental conditions. In lakes you may see greenish scum on the surface, or a greenish tinge to the water, or you might not see anything at all for a late stage of a bloom. If you see any of these in or on the water, or there is an alert out for the waterbody, it is better to be cautious and avoid that lake or lagoon.”

Environment Southland monitors toxic algae monthly at a number of river and lake sites across Southland.

For further information, visit Environment Southland’s website www.es.govt.nz/toxic-algae.


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